Recent experiments have shown that gene amplification can be mediated by submicroscopic, autonomously replicating, circular extrachromosomal molecules. We refer to those molecules as episomes (S. Carroll, P. Gaudray, M. L. DeRose, J. F. Emery, J. L. Meinkoth, E. Nakkim, M. Subler, D. D. Von Hoff, and G. M. Wahl, Mol. Cell. Biol. 7:1740-1750, 1987). The experiments reported in this paper explore the way episomes are formed and their fate in the cell over time. The data reveal that in our system the episomes are initially 250 kilobases, but gradually enlarge until they become double minute chromosomes. In addition, we show that episomes or double minute chromosomes can integrate into chromosomes. Our results also suggest that episomes can be produced by deletion of the corresponding sequences from the chromosome.